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Remembering our values

It’s a sure bet that Jerome Bettis has not been asked to come in off the bench too many times in his life.

His successes on the football field are well known by fans across the Tri-State Area. He did not play football before high school, but before he graduated from Detroit’s MacKenzie High School, he would be named the top player in Michigan by the Detroit Free Press.

That earned him a spot on the Notre Dame football team, where he excelled in his three years with the Fighting Irish before the then-Los Angeles Rams made him the 10th overall pick in the 1993 National Football League draft. After three seasons with the Rams, he was traded to the Steelers, where he would finish his career as one of the top backs to ever play the game, finishing with 13,662 rushing yards and 91 touchdowns. He also caught 200 passes for 1,449 yards and three touchdowns.

Fittingly, in his last game, he led the Steelers to a 21-10 win over Seattle in the 2006 Super Bowl, which was played in Detroit’s Ford Field.

He’s earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will be enshrined in Canton on Aug. 8 as a member of the Class of 2015.

Bettis is a first-teamer all the way, but he was more than happy to step in on behalf of his longtime coach, friend and mentor Monday night at St. Florian Hall during the annual Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner.

Holtz was absent because of a personal tragedy – his Orlando, Fla., house was ravaged by a fire that began with a lightning strike in the early morning hours of June 21.

Honored by the Holtz hall as the 2008 Outstanding American, Bettis said he was more than happy to serve as host for the event.

“It’s a great thing, what he’s been able to do – helping to honor so many incredible people,” Bettis said of Holtz.

This year’s inductees came from a wide range of disciplines. There was an educator – Reno DiOrio, who helped guide Linsly Institute through many changes. There was an insurance salesman – Ben Feldman, who set countless sales records with New York Life while working out of East Liverpool. There was a former National Basketball Association star – John Havlicek, a hall-of-famer and considered to be one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the league. There was a television executive – Tim McCoy of WTOV-TV, who shows his love of the Upper Ohio Valley in everything he does. There’s the Rensi family of Hopedale, the members of which have shown time and again that hard work and determination are a solid recipe for success.

While they followed different paths in their lives, there are several important characteristics they share, common traits that were developed while they were growing up in the Tri-State Area. Each has shown a dedication to their families, their faiths, their communities, a commitment to their work and loyalty

DiOrio, for instance, said an important thing he learned while growing up in Burgettstown was to “never, never quit.”

Havlicek’s work and his ability made him one of the best players to ever grace a basketball court.

Ed Rensi rose to the top of the business world, becoming president and chief executive officer of McDonald’s USA, while his brother, Sam, became head of international sales for Remington Arms.

There’s a common thread that runs through all of their successes – and that’s the values that were learned while growing up in our region.

Steve Blass, the former Pirates pitcher and current radio announcer, did not grow up in our area – he was born in Canaan, Conn. – but he has spent the last 56 years of his life with the Pirates. The guest speaker at Monday’s dinner hit on another important value – loyalty “to people who have given you a chance to achieve, a chance to make something of yourself.”

Those values are common not just to the members of the Class of 2015, but to all of the individuals who have earned a spot in the East Liverpool-based hall – and to everyone who calls the Tri-State Area home.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)